Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sinead O'Connor vs The Ulster Orchestra

I wasn’t a fan of Sinead O’Connor before going to see her performance at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall on Monday night, but I was prepared to be won over. After all, the union of a seasoned artist of some notoriety with the Ulster Orchestra would surely be something special. Sadly, it wasn’t.

The orchestra performed splendidly in reinterpreting a selection of O’Connor’s songs. The only problem was the singer herself. For the entire performance, she remained moored within a three-foot radius at one end of the stage, shuffling lazily back and forth with no attempt at communication with the audience. Such was her detachment, that I felt she might as well have situated herself behind one of those plastic noise-reduction screens that stood across the stage.

Towards the end of the performance, O'Connor stated she hadn’t talked because this wasn’t just her gig, but everyone’s. Yeah, but we came to see you Sinead, even if it was for free. Maybe you have to pay to get a glimpse of the energy that tore up the Pope’s picture, riled against imperialism and converted to the priesthood. You could be forgiven for thinking an impostor had been wheeled on stage. At one point, I couldn’t work out if O’Connor was nervous, bewildered, bored or embarrassed. Maybe, she was all of these things.

As for that voice… Well, where was it? She whispered her way through Don’t Cry For Me Argentina and croaked through Nothing Compares 2 U with the occasional yelp echoing former glories.

Yet, perhaps as a testament to O’Connor’s lack of prowess, both these songs were the strongest of the set. The Emperor’s New Clothes seemed to act as an unwitting sub-title to the tone of the evening. Her own material seemed to just amble along, although the reggae influenced Lamb’s Book of Life acted to lift the torpor towards the end of the set. I couldn’t believe she got a standing ovation. I remained firmly rooted in my seat.

“Oh, but she’s all grown up now and has three or four kids,” said an equally nonplussed friend afterwards, seeking to excuse Sinead’s lack of vitality.

Yeah, but so has Madonna, and she was writhing away like a mad thing on the TV the other night.

That’s entertainment!


Anonymous said...

I am a Sinead fan and have paid to see her several times. She usually sings with her eyes closed, or to her feet and her interaction with the audience is not great. I think it is nervousness rather than disinterest on her part. However, the power of her voice is what usually wins over the audience. I listened to the concert on the radio and thought her voice great.

The Great Wee Azoo said...

Thanks for the comment. I was surprised that such an outspoken artist, with around twenty years experience of gigging around the world should be so withdrawn and nervous. Maybe she felt overwhelmed by the orchestra. I'm still not convinced that Sinead's voice was that strong during this week's performance. She did seem to be having difficulty at times.

dr. adder said...

I also went to see Sinead O’Connor and like you was extremely disappointed at her performance. I know she can do better - so why did she appear so disinterested, why so bored and worst of all why so boring?

dr. adder said...

... oh, for anonymous - I have seen photos and videos of some of her other concerts and she doesn't usually perform with her eyes closed or on her feet - so why do it when she comes to Belfast?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, have to disagree. For me it didn't matter that she didn't jump around or do beyonce like dance routines. Herv oice was just amazing and the interaction between her band and the orchestra was amazing too. How could you not have loved something like If I had A Vineyard?

dr. adder said...

We don't want Beyonce dance routines either - a bit of life in the act would have been nice. Her voice was boring and what interaction are you talking about? She was wooden, she obviously couldn't care less about her performance or the audience. 'If I had a vineyard' - totally boring. For crying out loud, why don't you people admit that she can't get it right all of the time - even some of the time would be nice. The only people who came away from the Waterfront thinking that was an amazing performance were 'THE FANS' for whom she can do no wrong.